Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Stubs - A Star is Born (2018)

A Star is Born (2018) Starring Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott. Directed by Bradley Cooper. Screenplay by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters. Based on A Star Is Born by A Star is Born (1937): William A. Wellman, Robert Carson (Story); A Star is Born (1954): Moss Hart (Screenplay); A Star is Born (1976): John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion, Frank Pierson (Screenplay). Produced by Bradley Cooper, Bill Gerber, Lynette Howell Taylor, Jon Peters, Todd Phillips Run Time: 135 minutes. USA Color Drama, Musical, Romantic

One of the most remade stories in Hollywood, which loves a remake, is A Star is Born. It is to the credit of the filmmakers that all the versions have been something of a success. The original version won an Academy Award for Best Story, the first remake provided a comeback for Judy Garland and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, the second remake turned it from breaking into the movies to music, with then-popular Barbara Streisand, and won several Academy Awards and now a new version is out, which apparently follows the 1976 blueprint fairly closely.

Though there had been many casting announcements, the new film stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, the latter of which is making his directorial debut. And with the other films, this newest version is a well-made film as well.

The story is, as it always is, a male star on the decline discovers an unknown talent who rises quickly to stardom and eventually eclipses her mentor, who continues his decline, eventually ending his life.

Lady Gaga makes her film debut as the lead in A Star is Born (2018)

Lady Gaga, who makes her film debut in the leading role of Ally, the unknown singer, seems to have found a role that perfectly fits her talent. We all know that she can sing and her acting, which had been mostly limited to television, shows that she has dramatic chops as well.

Bradley Cooper, who surprises me with his musical abilities, plays Jackson, a performer who has a large following (we see sold-out shows), lots of money and a huge drug and alcohol addiction problem. He plucks Ally from obscurity and gives her the confidence she needs to succeed. Cooper is not a surprise as an actor as he has put in several good performances prior. I’m not sure how much of a test of his directing skills this film is, not that he doesn’t do a good job but he’s chosen a film with a well-established blueprint to follow.

Andrew Dice Clay give a good performance as Lorenzo.

There are some other good performances as well, including Andrew Dice Clay, who continues to impress in supporting roles. Here he is Lorenzo, Ally’s father, a chauffeur-driving-wannabe-singer. Dave Chappelle shows up as a childhood friend of Jack’s. He’s good but the part sort of comes out of nowhere and then disappears again.

Sam Elliott plays Jack’s brother and tour manager, Bobby. Elliott is one of those actors that always seems to bring his A-game. He is solid once again in this latest A Star Is Born.

While I am unfamiliar with Anthony Ramos's work, he does a really fine job as Ramon, Ally's friend from before she was a star, who is sort of like a touchstone for her throughout.

Also good is Rafi Gavron, who plays Rez Gavron, a music manager and promoter who takes Ally's career to a new level and also manages to further drive Jack in his downward descent. I've never seen Gavron before but he does have a good screen presence.

Jack (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) star as lovers on different career projections.

If I have any complaints, it would be with the screenplay. I can see why Ally would be attracted to the lifestyle but I'm not really sure why she falls in love with Jack, a very flawed man, other than the screenplay says so. There are also some actions that seem a little out of left field but you can overlook these given the other performances.

Anthony Ramos, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Lady Gaga and Dave Chappelle
all give strong performances in A Star is Born (2018)

For a film with a well-trodden past, the new A Star is Born does a very good job of retelling an all too familiar story. Lady Gaga, more than anyone, impresses and proves that she will no doubt have a film career if she wants one. Cooper shows a lot of promise for working behind the camera but I would like to see him take on a project that is less well known.

Overall, I would recommend A Star Is Born and expect it to do well when Awards season rolls around. If nothing else, it will most likely get a Best Song nomination.

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